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An under appreciated (and under-borrowed) back-shelf oddity. Abrasive, bizarre and featuring a central character who is hard to put up with, it’s also oddly innovative and savagely funny if you’re ready for it.
Fans of Josh and Benny Safdie take note: Frownland is written and directed by longtime Safdie collaborator Ronald Bronstein — co-writer and co-editor on Good Time (2017) and Uncut Gems (2019), and star of the brothers’ early feature Daddy Longlegs (2009).
Probably too messy to be called a masterpiece, this movie is nonetheless a feat of narrative filmmaking, packed with incredible ideas and elevated by an astounding lead performance from the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Overwhelming in its ambition — much like the agonised protagonist’s endlessly expanding theatre project — this is a film that is too big to be able to fully contain its own bigness. A brilliant, disturbing, convoluted opus. WARNING: Not a date movie.
Notoriously overshadowed by the comic masterpiece that is Dr. Strangelove… (1964), Fail Safe is a marvel of white-knuckle tension — if you can look past the obvious parallels with the Stanley Kubrick classic.
An extremely well-crafted thriller, with some inspired editing by Rosenblum and an ending that can still knock the wind out of you almost 60 years later.
Both a history of film editing and a personal journey through a career spent cutting movies for directors such as Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet, Mel Brooks and William Friedkin, Ralph Rosenblum’s memoir is a true gift to anyone interested in the craft of editing. The chapters on cutting The Night They Raided Minsky’s should be required reading for all aspiring film editors:
"Nothing could shake my feeling of having been left to revive a corpse—nor suspend my conviction that I would be sticking tubes, and intravenous drips, and cardiac shocks, and artificial respirators onto and into and out of this patient for the rest of my life." (p24)
Set in Ireland, this cleverly written series is about an apparently passionate father who is really a serial killer. (Played by Jamie Dornan.) Gillian Anderson of X-files fame plays the cold-hearted detective tasked with solving the crimes, and gradually the murderer is uncovered by his own psychopathic compulsions. Or is he?
Well written, fast paced, with a cast that also includes John Lynch, who seems to be the ‘fall guy’ for these types of productions.
It is worth being patient with the series - I was hooked by about episode 3.
“Stories from the b-side of history.” Aren’t you already hooked? Oral histories that cover a wide range of subjects and people, from Lou Reed’s hidden archive (not even Laurie knew he had it until he died!) and Taylor Negron’s answering machine recordings (extremely funny); to the history of the French Manicure, the art of mushroom foraging, and “hidden kitchens” i.e. political dissent through food.
Every episode showcases small fragments of an interesting person’s life, celebrity or not.
I return to this podcast over and over again – not a single episode is uninteresting.